Baroque Art, as a distinct style, emerged during the 17th century. It ran in parallel with the Scientific Revolution in Europe, and was a direct product of the Counter-Reformation movement of the Roman Catholic Church. The philosophy behind the style emerged in the 16th century during the Council of Trent when the Roman Catholic Church felt the need for an art form that would help reinforce its power and clarify its ideology following the Reformation. Baroque Art was created with the dual purpose of inspiring awe as well as making the stories of the Bible accessible to those who would not read. It aimed to appeal to the broadest section of society by combining richness, movement and emotion. Baroque, since it was intended for the consumption of the masses, leaves little for the viewer's inference or imagination. The scenes are usually straightforward visual interpretations of liturgical or mythological stories, and are cluttered with details. The symbolism, if any, is direct and easy to understand. If the Mannerist art that preceded Baroque was based on wit, Baroque Art was based on power. It grew on the patronage of the Catholic Church and the aristocracy, and was used to establish authority and opulence.
The Scientific Revolution affected the way material and spiritual worlds were depicted in Baroque. Folds that flow into each other, making forms impossible to separate, characterize baroque art. Humans, gods and nature are brought together within the swirls of these folds, establishing the close connection between the human race, nature and the divine. Where the Renaissance had a clear division of hierarchies, now there was an intermingling of forms. This shift in philosophy was accompanied by the rise of biology and anatomy as disciplines, leading to an interest in the human body. For Reubens and other Baroque artists, the body is not seen as something lower or inferior, it could also be used to translate a spiritual experience. Reubens' rejected the ideal...
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